First of all, let us start by saying, this article is not about everyone and all the time – it is about sometimes and some perspectives.
I personally feel that every single person is at a certain “location” mentally and it is difficult to truly empathize with each other. I am sure, I am the villain, the bad person, the mean person in someone else’s story and that is absolutely possible because I am unable to experience what they are going through.
This article is just a view into how I feel sometimes, that it is very difficult for people without special needs or any connections with special needs to really understand this side of the world. This is how the world sees the special needs parent and it’s not anyone’s fault!
The intention of the article is to give you a sneak peek into the internal chatters that we go through when we hear a few perspectives…
We have heard this many times with Hasan. For some reason, a lot of people think special needs children look very different. Autism is such a deep, vast space and no amount of awareness is sometimes enough. Maybe I would have known nothing about this if I wasn’t gifted with Hasan. I am pretty sure; we have ourselves known so little about autism even today. Anyway, back to one of the myths – Autistic children are wired differently, YES. But they don’t essentially look different. They look just like you and me!
Many people have questions about special needs, especially when it comes to education. Yes of course – “school” is normal and very much possible in the case of Hasan or any special needs child. We live in times that are far more inclusive than it used to be. Special needs children go to schools and “regular” schools – only; they may need attention, therapy or shadow teachers in early years so that they can be integrated with schools that have neuro-typical children. Schools do not have separate classrooms for special needs children; the idea of inclusiveness is not: same school, different classrooms. This is what inclusiveness means: same school, same classroom, and various learning methodologies. We are getting there!
Of course not! Special needs children like Hasan may take time to understand social interactions. They tend to feel threatened sometimes and shut down to certain environments. However, once certain expectations are set and we involve them in decision making, they tend to feel more empowered to be part of the environment and start bonding. After a point, they actually tend to look forward to social interactions after the trust is developed.
I laugh now but this question upset me initially. I have encountered multiple people asking me if we use any drugs/medication for autism that help us put him to bed, calm him down, and so on. I have now understood that a combination of genuine care and sometimes lack of awareness is the root cause of questions like this. I now answer them more patiently without taking it personally. Like I said in my previous article, there are no drugs one can count on for cure in autism and NO – we don’t use medicines to calm children down. We work on things little by little, slow and steady. There are multiple essential oils, oils one can consume for specific needs within autism but this needs to be done with great care and after multiple layers of assessments with specialists.
Special needs children don’t really look different, they go to regular schools, they love having company and are definitely not all of them are under medication to calm them down.
They are regular people with the same feelings as us. They process the environment in different ways; they have different strengths, different fears and therefore a different purpose.
But I can say one thing for sure; special needs parents and special needs children are just normal, regular individuals who crave to be treated in normal, regular ways!
I must also say, on the contrary, apart from the various questions one gets that stem from lack of awareness, the world around me as I see it is more sensitive to these aspects than ever before. The world sees a special needs parent with great respect – almost as if we are superheroes – honestly, it’s pretty straight forward and not tough. We tend to struggle the initial few months, but with a support system in place, everything is possible.
If you know a special needs parent, do something today that helps them feel understood – have a conversation which has no questions for them around special needs, talk about movies, books, art or anything to them – not just about their special needs child, make them laugh – help them feel regular… just regular!
Ishwarya Kumar Ahmed is the c0-founder and director of Upturn Learning Solutions- A community organization in the space of parenting and childhood. She prides herself on being the mother of a special needs child and a neurotypical child.